An inside track to an affordable home
The Island Affordable Housing Fund (IAHF), the fundraising arm of the Vineyard's affordable housing efforts, last month unveiled a new wrinkle. In a letter sent to Island businesses, the IAHF offered substantial donors the opportunity to pick an approved applicant from the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority (RHA) waiting list to be awarded a home in the planned project at 250 State Road in West Tisbury. IAHF executive director Patrick Manning told The Martha's Vineyard Times that while there have been some expressions of interest, so far no business has accepted the opportunity.
In order to qualify to buy a RHA home at far below market rate, an applicant must have an income within certain guidelines and demonstrate the ability to keep up with the mortgage and other expenses. The RHA currently has about 300 qualified applicants waiting for affordable housing projects of various kinds.
The project at 250 State Road sprung from a deal with a family estate that allowed the Island Housing Trust to purchase and develop a 3-acre and a 5-acre parcel in West Tisbury while allowing the land to be protected through the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank. There will be eight homes for sale - two each for applicants earning 80, 100, 120, and 140 percent of the Dukes County median yearly income.
The new wrinkle explained in the letter from the IAHF allows a business to donate $50,000 and pick a qualified applicant for one of the houses restricted to buyers at 120 percent of median, or $75,000 and pick an applicant at 140 percent. The donation, according to the letter, will not only assist in the construction of the home awarded, but will help subsidize all the homes in the project.
The Martha's Vineyard Times asked Mr. Manning whether the opportunity might seem unfair to others on the waiting list, who do not have a sponsor to buy them an award. He replied that the IAHF board discussed that concern at length. The IAHF already accepts restricted gifts of various kinds, such as Community Preservation Act funds restricted to residents of a particular town, or donations restricted to teachers, municipal employees, or other groups, he said.